Tuesday 20 December 2011

Recipe: Beef & Lentil Stew

Here is a simple and delicious recipe that is perfect for cooler times of the year. I made this for dinner (plus lots of left-overs) recently and it turned out so well I thought I’d make it again for my office Christmas potluck lunch.

Beef & Lentil Stew

  • 1/2 a large sweet yellow onion
  • 1 package extra lean ground beef
  • 2 can of lentils
  • 1 can of low-sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can of crushed tomatoes (or about 1/3 of a large can)
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 - 2 T EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 - 2 t whole cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 - 2 t dried oregano
  • 1 - 2 t dried basil OR a sprig of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1 t yellow curry powder
  • 1 t seasoning salt
  • 1/2 t pepper (I used a blend of fresh ground white, red and black peppercorns)

Mmm... cumin...

Start heating the olive oil in a medium-large pot. Finely dice the onion and add to the pot. Saute just below medium heat until it starts to caramelize or turn golden. Crush and roughly chop garlic and add to onion. If you add the garlic too soon, it will burn! Add cumin. Once that has a minute or two to cook, add the ground beef. Stir frequently to break up chunks and brown evenly.

Roughly chop spinach
While the beef browns, open the cans of lentils and rinse thoroughly. (You can make these from dry but I find the canned ones work just as well and are a lot easier.) Add the lentils to the pot  just before the beef is completely cooked through. (You don't want to over do the beef or it will get tough and chewy.) You can turn the temperature up to just over medium now. Add all the remaining spices and herbs. I don't actually measure; I just eye-ball it. Once it is heated through, add the cans of tomato: dices and crushed. Stir well.

Press in the spinach
While that heats, roughly chop the spinach. Add a handful at a time and just press it into the top of the 'stew'. You want to add this as late as possible and cooked it only a little. When you over cook spinach, it turns brownish and a bit slimy. If you cook it only a little near the end, it will stay deep green and have just a soft texture. Mix it all in just before you serve it.

My hubby and I ate this with buttered fresh bread, but you could have it plain, with potatoes or on rice... However you like. Enjoy!
In the crock pot, ready to go to work.

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